Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied complicity in the illegal activities of a printing press in Rivers State accused making fake election result sheets.
The commission in a statement signed by its Secretary, Mrs. Augusta C. Ogakwu, yesterday said: “It has no knowledge whatsoever of the reported printing and did not commission the company allegedly involved or anyone in Rivers Sate to print any electoral materials for it.”
It described as “false, frivolous and unsubstantiated the assertions that have the potential of eroding or undermining public confidence in the commission’s activities are unacceptable.”
The police had in a raid last Saturday on a printing press located at No. 12, Isiokpo Street, Port Harcourt, discovered a large number of printed copies of result sheets for several local governments in Rivers State where the INEC has slated elections for December 10 re-run National Assembly elections.
However, the commission noted that shortly after the publication of the new date for the State and National Assembly re-run elections in Rivers State, the media reported the arrest of several persons allegedly printing INEC’s election result sheets with several commentators accusing the commission of being complicit in this.
The INEC statement read: “The grave allegation of complicity in this illegality is of great concern to the commission and it is liaising with the security agencies, particularly the police, to unravel the circumstances surrounding this fraudulent activity. For emphasis. the commission is committed to ensuring that a thorough investigation is carried out.
“For the record, lNEC states that, in compliance with legal requirements, it issues on request Certified True Copies (CTCs) of Result sheets and other public documents to all applicants. Following the elections of Saturday, March 19, 2016, most political parties and candidates applied, paid prescribed fees and were issued these CTCs.
“Furthermore, in line with legal requirements, all political parties and contestants in the Rivers State elections as well as other stakeholders. were given a list of all senatorial districts, federal and state constituencies as well as all polling units where the re-run elections are to take place. Against this background the commission asserts that the allegation by some people that the is w known or disclosed to a particular party is untrue.
“It will be recalled that the commission lost a young man, a serving National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, and its Khana Local Government Area Office was burnt. This is in addition to other acts of violence that occurred in its earlier attempts to conduct the election. INEC wishes to appeal to all stakeholders in Rivers State to maintain temperate language in their comments and engagements regarding developments in the state, as we prepare to conclude the elections.
“INEC is committed to delivering elections that are free, fair and credible and it hereby appeals to all stakeholders to ensure that the Rivers State elections are concluded in a peaceful, conducive, safe and calm atmosphere.
“The commission hereby reiterates its commitment to conducting free, fair and credible elections in Rivers State. However, its commitment to carrying out its mandate cannot be accomplished without the cooperation of all stakeholders.
“False, frivolous and unsubstantiated assertions that have the potential of eroding or undermining public confidence in the commission’s activities are unacceptable.
“The commission assures all stakeholders that preparations for the elections scheduled for December 10, are in top gear,” it said.